Exploring New Plymouth – Part 2

The morning is spent eating birthday cake over cups of tea and chats. What a great way to start the day. The weather forecast isn’t looking too great for today or the rest of the trip, but it’s not raining yet, so we head out for a walk. Dad wants to do the Te Henui Walkway so that’s where we head.

The start of the walk is where the river mouth meets the sea. I get out of the car and am blasted with a cold, icy wind. I’m thinking to myself, ‘Who’s idea was this? It’s so cold, what an unpleasant walk this will be’

We spend the first few minutes in the playground, with young and old having a go on the digger!

But it’s too cold to sit around so we start walking. It’s a nice setting, but the weather is not making it very enjoyable at all! However, after about 5 minutes, we turn a corner and the wind disappears and completely transforms the walk. I am not hating it anymore, it’s actually rather nice. It’s an easy flat walk and I enjoy looking at the layers in the forest. The tall towering trees, right down to the ground cover ferns and seedlings. Moss covers the bare branches and vines drape across the trees. It’s such a fascinating eco system.

Daniel and I are walking much faster than the rest of the party, we are quite far ahead, but Lachie is on his bike and catches up in no time. The flat terrain makes it a great place for riding bikes. The walk twists and turns, but sticks to the river, we walk under several bridges and then arrive at one we need to walk over. While we wait for the others to catch up, we decide to have a few games of pooh sticks. Lachie selects his stick, I use a large, dried leaf and of course, Uncle Daniel decides to use a massive log that he’s found, it’s at least as tall as him. Lachie’s stick unfortunately sinks, my leaf gets caught up in Daniel’s log, and Daniel declares himself the winner. I love the joy that can be found in such a simple activity.

Daniel and I have lunch at The Backyard Cafe and take a look around the shops before heading back home. We spend the rest of the afternoon eating birthday cake, drinking tea and taking a dip in the spa.

One of my goals for the year is to watch some sunrises and sunsets. So, whenever I am on the East or West coast, I am making an effort to do this. And since New Plymouth is on the West Coast, despite the weather, I am down at the beach to watch the sun go down. It’s pretty overcast, but there is a break in the clouds and golden hues are pouring through it. The tide is low, which has exposed a sandy part of the beach. The colours from this patch of gold are reflecting in the wet sand. It’s not your traditional sunset, but it’s beautiful. I also note the vastness of the ocean.

Looking out to sea, all there is is ocean and sky. In Wellington, we are in an enclosed harbour. The view I am so use to seeing always has land at the other side of the ocean. Its a simple, beautiful reminder of how small we are in this big awesome world.

The next day is wet, wild and the last full day of our holiday. Daniel is keen to go to the Len Lye Art Gallery so we head there, while the rest of the family go to the local museum. Both great rainy day activities. To be honest, art galleries aren’t really my thing, but it’s still interesting. I like the tall ceiling entrance way and there are some interesting kinetic metal sculptures which we sit and watch/listen to for a while.

We have lunch across the road at The Public Catering Company I am delighted to find they make doughnuts and their filled focaccia is pretty good too, I highly recommend you check out this place! After lunch, Daniel spends up large at the record shop and I take a wander down the street looking in the home ware and plant stores. They have some really nice shops here.

We meet up with the rest of the family and head to Bowlarama for some glow in the dark mini golf and arcade games before heading back home for more birthday cake and boardgames.

Reflecting on this trip, a lot of the things we did, we could have done at home. We didn’t do or see much that was particularly Taranaki, but having those 4 nights away with the family, being able to spend quality time with my niece and nephew was so special. They are growing up so fast and I am grateful that I get to spend the time with them.

A family trip to New Plymouth – Part 1.

Any good road trip should start with road trip snacks so we make our way to a local bakery, Fix Federation. The Lower Hutt Sweet As Challange is on and I want to try their Biscoff Smash Hot Chocolate.

Yes, it’s as good as it looks! This trip is off to a good start.

We are heading to New Plymouth for a family holiday. We will be joined by my Mum, Dad, brother, sister in law, nephew and niece. Last Christmas we decided not to do gifts, and instead put that money towards a family trip. Finally, we have made it happen.

It’s a bright, sunny, winter’s day. I like days like this, it’s crisp and cool. Trees are bare silhouettes, having dropped all their leaves, it feels kind of magical.

We stop for lunch in Wanganui to spend some time with my aunt and uncle. They have a cute little dog named Millie and a reptile friend. I say “Look at the lizard Lachie” he replies with “It’s a bearded Lizard Auntie Lani” Noted, thanks Lachie!

As we get closer to Taranaki, we can see the mountain, there are clouds on the peak, but we can see the snow line. We were hoping we might be able to get the kids to the snow, but it looks way too high for that. We will have to save that for another trip.

We arrive at the house and it is beautiful, it’s very large, which will be perfect for all the family and it has an indoor pool and spa pool. What more could you need? Of course it doesn’t take long before the kids are into their togs and enjoying the warm water of the spa pool. It’s a nice way to end a long day of travel.

I wake in the morning to little whispers coming from the end of the bed. Lachie and Lily have snuck into our room and are whispering at the end of the bed, trying to decide if we are awake. I lift up the covers and they both get in for some morning snuggles. I love this part of family holidays. It’s so special to spend some quality time with them.

Today is Miss Lily’s 3rd birthday and my brother is cooking up a birthday breakfast, crepes, fruit salad and scrambled eggs. James is a pretty good cook and I always like going away on holiday with him!

It’s Lily’s day today, so she gets to choose what we do. She wants to go to the park, so we head out to Pukekura Park. We came here last year with Daniel’s family, but it was at night for the Lights Festival. It’s nice to experience the park in the daylight.

The park is tranquil. Mature trees, a lake and an abundance of bird life. I like being in the forest away from home, it’s noticeably different. We are north of home and the foliage feels more tropical with lots of palms dotted amongst more familiar trees.

It’s another lovely winter day. Out in the open, the sun is glorious, I can feel its warmth on my skin. In the bush, it’s pretty cold, but the forest has a gorgeous, damp, earthy smell. We amble along, it’s a large park, and make our way to the Bowl of Brooklands – a large grassy hill that looks down towards a stage. This would be such a great place to see an outdoor concert.

The reason we have wandered up here is to go to the Brooklands Zoo. It turns out to be a pretty cool little zoo. They have a great range of animals, farmyard animals like pigs and llamas, a reptile house (no bearded lizards this time) birds, primates and other creatures. The capybaras were great, I know they are the world’s largest rodent, I just hadn’t realised quite how big they get! Another favourite were the monkeys. They had several species. I find them fascinating to watch, their swinging and climbing ability is outstanding.

I think my favourite though, was the Burmese pheasant. A very colourful bird, (obviously the male) was running around all over the aviary, feathers puffed out, trying to impress the ladies, none of whom seemed the least bit interested. He was very persistent, animated and entertaining to watch.

After our little outing to the zoo, Daniel and I head off into the city center for some lunch. We choose an Indian restaurant, purely because we liked the name, Arranged Marriage. They serve South Indian cuisine and I loved that they served lunch sized portions. It was the perfect amount and really delicious. Especially their naan, that was yum!

In the afternoon, I spend some time decorating a birthday cake for Lily while everyone else makes their way to the pool. It doesn’t take long before they all start migrating towards the spa pool though. Apparently the pool isn’t very warm. When I join them, the music is playing and the drinks are flowing.

The day is finished with an Italian dinner at Belle Vita as Miss Lily loves antipasti platters, especially olives. I think she ate most of the olives that we got for the starter. I of course had a pizza. It’s got to be one of my favourite foods!